By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 11 Mar: Suspense continues over who will take over as next Chief Minister of Uttarakhand. Outgoing Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami was the CM’s face in the elections and he did manage to arrest the trend of change of power in every election by ensuring a good win for the party in just about 7 months’ tenure as CM. However, he lost his own election from Khatima and, therefore, it has become necessary for the party to consider other options.
Meanwhile, the party high command has nominated Union Ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Piyush Goyal as observers to oversee the election of the new leader of the BJP Legislative Party. The two leaders are expected to arrive tomorrow and hold a meeting with the party’s Core Committee before holding the meeting of the BJP Legislative Party for the election of the new CM.
There is speculation that the party may still choose to hand him the reins of the party once again and he may contest a by-election should an MLA resign to allow him to contest. It may be recalled that there is no Legislative Council in Uttarakhand and therefore contesting a by-election is the only way if the party chooses to continue with him as Chief Minister.
There are other options too under consideration as per the sources, however. The party may choose a CM from existing MLAs which remains a safe bet. The possible names doing the rounds are that of Satpal Maharaj and Dhan Singh Rawat. But the party may still throw up a surprise in case it does choose to install a new CM. Alternatively, it may choose a new non-MLA face to head the government. The names doing the rounds include Ajay Bhatt, the Union Minister and MP from Nainital, and Anil Baluni, Rajya Sabha MP. However, logic questions what the need is to replace Dhami in case a non-MLA is chosen to lead the government as that person, too, would have to contest a byelection in order to continue as CM beyond six months.
It would be highly impractical and improbable that the BJP would choose a CM just for six months and then bring in some else. Discussions are hot in the BJP circles that, despite Dhami’s defeat, the party may still hand over the reins of power to him. The recent example of Mamata Banerjee is before everyone, who had ensured a huge win for her party, the TMC in the West Bengal assembly election but herself had lost her election. It is also being argued in favour of Dhami that he did not get enough time to campaign in his own constituency as he continued to campaign throughout the state. In addition, Dhami did not get enough time to work and deserved another chance particularly in view of the fact that he led the party to a huge win by offsetting the anti incumbency wave against the ruling party.
It may be recalled that, with the exception of Bhagat Singh Koshyari, no other sitting CM has been able to win his election at the end of a term in Uttarakhand. While ND Tiwari had not contested, Nityanand Swamy as former CM lost his election, BC Khanduri lost his election as sitting CM and Harish Rawat lost his election from not one but two constituencies in 2017. Now, it was the turn of Dhami to lose his election from Khatima as he too failed to break the jinx.
Suspense continues over next CM of U’khand
By Arun Pratap Singh